My husband and I are really lucky when it comes to childcare. When we go out, we have a built in babysitter anxious and willing to spend a few, uninterrupted hours with our child: Grandma. And while we don’t always agree with what transpires while we are out, in general, the household rules are followed.
But every so often, Grandma is not available and we need to hire a babysitter. We have had good experiences with the teenage sitters in our neighborhood. Our household rules are pretty lax (yes, K can watch t.v., no, there is no set bed time while we are out. Occasionally, K might mention that the sitter was too strict or wouldn’t let her have dessert. We don’t consider that to be a major issue even if our child does.
But what happens when the babysitter tells your kid to keep something secret from her parents and flat out lies to you when you ask her about it? We recently experienced this situation and are wondering about the actions we should take.
While attending a theater event on a Sunday afternoon, one of the neighborhood teenagers (who was highly recommended to us) agreed to watch our child. While we were gone, a few minor calamities occurred: balls flying and landing on the roof, a few toys breaking from misuse and a sketchy decision by our daughter to use suntan lotion as a way to “draw” on the driveway. None of these things is a big deal to me. Really… I have done and experienced much worse first as a child and then as a mother. What I struggle with is the decision to “let’s just not tell your parents” by the sitter.
Note, there are three basic rules in my house:
- Be courteous to ourselves and one another
- Safety first. Before doing something ask yourself if this is safe.
- No secrets from Mom or Dad. It is much better to just tell your parents what’s going on rather than keeping it inside and letting them find out about it later.
In typical middle-child tradition, I tried to break the tension by first shrugging my shoulders as if this was not a big deal and then, of course because I was a bit nervous, giggling. I have to admit that I was afraid if we questioned the kid too much that we would make her cry. The sitter admitted to me that she was going to tell us about the ball landing on the roof and that she was really sorry about it. Again, now wanting to create tension, I just shrugged it off and said that it was no big deal. But…at the time, I didn’t know what she told my child: “Don’t tell your parents about the sunscreen. Let’s just keep it a secret.” Had I known, I would have stopped giggling immediately.